Shonny Vanlandingham is the definition of a professional athlete and deserves the term for a lot of reasons - she's naturally gifted, trains intelligently and consistently and manages her diet. She knows how to recover, has a competitive spirit and carries herself with an air of confidence and calm that lets you know that mountain biking is not only her sport and her passion, but her job. Cyclingnews' Steve Medcroft spoke with Vanlandingham about becoming the best women's mountain biker in the US in 2005.
Vanlandingham also deserves the term of professional athlete because when her professionalism is tested, she seems to always rise to the challenge. In the US National Championship Cross Country, for example, when she flatted in the final mile and lost a dominant lead to finish fourth after walking her bike across the line, it took focus to stand at the finish, wipe the disappointment from her face and congratulate Mary McConneloug on her win.
On the NORBA circuit she rose to the challenge race after race. After a DNF in the season opener in Texas, she only ever yielded first place twice in seven more cross country races. That menas five wins in seven races - a great winning record for a year.
Speaking of the number of wins; the biggest example of her professionalism in 2005 came time and again when almost everyone in cycling referred to her number of wins as one less than it truly was. The confusion lay in the scoring of the second NORBA weekend in Phoenix, Arizona. Top official points in the Cross Country series scoring actually went to the winner of that weekend’s three-race omnium (Trek’s Sue Haywood), not the first woman across the line in the cross country (Vanlandingham). That confusion was so pervasive, Vanlandingham found herself reminding and correcting everyone from journalists, PA announcers, podium presenters, sponsors and other riders. Like a true professional, she smiled and nodded understandingly when everyone made the same mistake over and over, and was patient when she brought the distinction of her accomplishments to the person making it.
Read the complete Shonny Vanlandingham interview here.